February 27, 2007

Suzuki Speaks at Douglas College

David Suzuki spoke to an overflowing house today at Douglas College in New Westminster. After introductions from New Westminster Mayor Wayne Right and Councillor Jonathan Cote, Suzuki gave an impassioned speech that had the audience laughing, cheering and clapping.

His basic message? This is a moment when we as humans have to make some crucial decisions. We need to transform the way we live, and we have a very narrow window to do it in. We are the first and only species to actually change our planet, and we need to learn to control our impulses. There is good news out there, and it's up to each and every one of us to make our wishes for change known to our politicians. Though each of us alone may feel insignificant, when millions of us act together we can be a powerful force.

Suzuki urged audience members to sign up for his Nature Challenge and start contributing small, personal efforts toward sustainability.

Yumi and I did our bit today by taking the Skytrain down to the event, and then walking home, which took just over an hour :-).

Posted by Paul at 07:48 PM

February 26, 2007

Calling All Streamkeepers: Workshop 2007

Community Workshop 2007 for BC streamkeepers will be held May 18-20, 2007, at Thompson Rivers University in Williams Lake, BC. The topic is "Stewardship in Transition: Impact and Adaptations in a Changing Climate."

Check out the conference website for more information and registration forms. Yumi and I went to the conference in Squamish nearly two years ago, and had a great time.

Posted by Paul at 08:11 PM

February 24, 2007

NewsLeader Publishes My Green Street Letter

The Burnaby NewsLeader published my letter in support of the City of Burnaby's green street initiative that I wrote about here.

Unfortunately, you cannot link to specific NL items, so I'll just paste it here:

Burnaby?s alternative street design project applauded

Feb 23 2007

Kudos to the City of Burnaby for initiating a pilot project to make Clinton Street greener while benefiting Byrne Creek and the surrounding environment. (NewsLeader, Feb. 22)

I am excited by this plan and envy local residents who will likely see the beautification of their street result in a reinforced sense of community and higher property values. What bonuses to appreciate, while also knowing their street will have a positive effect on the health of their watershed, and their own physical and mental well-being.

As a volunteer with the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers, I am elated the City has chosen this area for the pilot project.

One of our greatest concerns as stewards of our beautiful neighbourhood waterway is the impact of unrestrained flows of rainwater through street drains directly into the creek. Not only do such huge flows from impervious surfaces such as roads and parking lots contribute to erosion and sedimentation of salmon spawning areas, they also carry pollutants such as oil, antifreeze, brake-lining dust, and other toxins into the creek.

The City?s street edge alternative (SEA) project will help on both counts.

I sense that as a society we are becoming increasingly aware of our impact on our environment, and are realizing that we can all make a difference. Indeed, that we all must start making a difference if our children and grandchildren are to enjoy healthy, sustainable lives.

Such change happens person by person, neighbourhood by neighbourhood, and I am proud that the city I have chosen to live in is taking the lead in fostering such progress.

Paul Cipywnyk

Posted by Paul at 01:06 PM

February 22, 2007

SEA Street Pilot For Southeast Burnaby

Burnaby is planning a pilot SEA (street edge alternative) project on a section of Clinton St. near Ron McLean Park. This is a very exciting development, and I'm elated that it's going into the Byrne Creek watershed, where I volunteer as a streamkeeper.

What's so great about SEA streets? They reduce the amount of rain that runs off into rain drains (storm drains :-) by as much as 90% or even more compared to traditional streets with curbs and gutters. This is very important to local creeks because all of those street drains connect directly to them. That means every time it rains, massive amounts of water go shooting down the creeks because it cannot sink into the ground, or be caught by vegetation, as it did in pre-development times.

Not only do SEA streets reduce runoff, they also help to filter pollutants such as oil, gas, brake-lining dust, antifreeze and other substances that collect on roads. They do this by providing vegetated swales, or shallow ditches beside roads, so that water can soak into the ground. Not only are they functional, they are also beautiful. I hope the neighborhood gets excited about this project, and that it goes well, so that it expands to other areas.

Seattle has had great success with SEA streets. Here are a few links:

Street Edge Alternatives Project

SEA Steets Virtual Tour

Wikipedia entry on daylighting creeks and SEA streets.

Wikipedia entry on rain gardens and SEA streets.

Posted by Paul at 03:15 PM

February 20, 2007

Flow Monitor Installed in Byrne Creek

Burnaby installed a flow monitor in Byrne Creek recently as part of work toward developing an Integrated Stormwater Management Plan (ISMP) for the watershed. I look forward to seeing the data, as the creek has become very flashy due to the effects of urban development and increasing impervious surfaces that result in rain shooting into the creek in huge quantities through rain drains (storm drains :-).

Streamkeepers have been collecting some data on flows for years by manually reading staff gauges installed above and below a gate in the spawning habitat, however readings have been sporadic. The new data-logging equipment will give much greater detail.


Posted by Paul at 03:00 PM

Byrne Creek Fry Patrol

Salmon fry (babies) should be popping out any day now from the nests that spawning chum and coho made in Byrne Creek last autumn. While the returning spawner count was disappointing last year at around a third of its peak since the creek was restored, streamkeepers did tally around a dozen redds (nests of eggs) in the creek and spawning habitat.

Yumi and I checked several spots where we've seen fry in previous years, but we didn't see any yet. It wasn't a good day for spotting the wee fish -- it was overcast and fairly dark. It's much easier to see them on a bright, sunny day, when they cast shadows as they flit around.

Posted by Paul at 02:53 PM

February 16, 2007

Mukkun Going Blind

Yumi talked with her Dad on the phone the other day, and one of the bits of news from northern Japan that we were loath to hear was that Mukkun, the family dog, is gradually going blind.

Mukkun joined the family around the time that Yumi and I got married.

That's coming up 14 years this spring, so Mukkun must be heading toward 15. He's always been an outdoor dog, and winters in Aomori can be harsh. I'm happy he's done as well as he has. We haven't been able to make it back for a visit for nearly three years now, though, and I'd sure like to give the pup another hug and enjoy a walk along the forests and rice fields.

Hang in there, boy!

Mukkun hugging Yumi the year we moved to Canada.

Posted by Paul at 09:17 PM

February 13, 2007

Toshiba Tecra 530CDT RIP

It's amazing how attached we get to lifeless chunks of technology, and how hard it can be to part with them. My Toshiba Tecra 530CDT notebook computer was a recent addition to the scrapheap. I tore it apart a couple of weeks ago -- it hurt, but I wanted to make sure nothing could be recovered from it, should someone try to scavenge data from it.

I bought it back in 1998, when I learned my Dad had prostate cancer and I quit my job in Tokyo and flew to Saskatchewan to see him. Even then it was a discontinued model that I got at a deep discount, but it kept me in touch with my wife while I was away, and it helped start the business I am still running today, when we moved to Canada in January 1999.

The Tecra sat for years on my desk, though I used it less and less, and replaced it with an IBM T42 about a year and half ago. With a 166MHz processor, 64MB of RAM, a 2GB hard drive, and Windows 98b the Tecra had become a door stop long ago. It was a solid machine, though, and I miss its presence in a strange way. A lot of good, and bad, times flew from my fingers into its keyboard, to wife, relatives, friends, and clients.


Posted by Paul at 08:21 PM

February 12, 2007

Sustainable Planning

Sustainability: Planning's Redemption or Curse?
Author: Michael Gunder, PhD

An excellent comment on how too often planners leave out the environmental and social equity components of sustainability in favor of the economy.

"Sustainability is often defined as a balance of the three E's: the environment, the economy, and social equity. But as planners embrace the concept, the sustainability 'balance' heavily favors one E: the economy. Michael Gunder warns that planners risk sacrificing the environment and social equity in the name of sustainable economic development."

Posted by Paul at 09:55 PM

February 10, 2007

Deer Lake in Mid-Winter

Yumi and I roamed around Burnaby's Deer Lake this afternoon for the first time in months. Five years ago we lived much closer to this beautiful park and used to walk it several times a week, so it was like visiting an old friend.

The view to the northeast from the upper meadow beneath where the penitentiary used to be.

The old ditches on the former pen farm are clearly visible amongst the flattened vegetation in the winter sun.

An old fence gradually decays next to a road.

A leaning tree extends over the lake.

A gorgeous pileated woodpecker looks for lunch.

Posted by Paul at 09:22 PM

February 09, 2007

Review: Bush Telegraph

Bush Telegraph: Discovering the Pacific Province
by Stephen Hume

This is a gem of a collection of essays by Stephen Hume about British Columbia, ranging from history to nature to even a few recipes for native berries. Hume has a nose for tales that reveal the human condition and our relationship to the geography and history of this amazing province. From the wisdom of first nations to the aspirations of early immigrants, these stories are pictures into the human soul and our relationship with the ocean and land around us. Hume's prose displays an intense dedication to his craft and is a joy to read.

Posted by Paul at 09:10 PM

February 08, 2007

CNIB, Howie's Bistro Host Board of Trade Event

The CNIB and Howie's Bistro and Bar hosted a networking reception for the Burnaby Board of Trade tonight. The food at Howie's was good, and the CNIB presentation was informative, including information about hiring people with vision issues. The BBOT has been growing by leaps and bounds over the last year or two, and it was great to see lots of people out for the event. Unfortunately I had to leave early to get another meeting.

Posted by Paul at 10:26 PM

February 03, 2007

Atlantic Salmon in Saskatchewan?!

I was skimming an issue of Outdoor Canada and was blown away to read that Atlantic Salmon have been farmed in Lake Diefenbaker in Saskatchewan and anglers have caught escapees in the Saskatchewan River. I don't understand why people continue to introduce non-native species all over the place. It just seems such a no-brainer that this sort of tampering with nature will have negative consequences.

I ran across this article that has sections on fish farming all across Canada:

The Canadian Society for Bioengineering: The Canadian society for engineering in agricultural, food, environmental, and biological systems. A special issue on aquaculture

Posted by Paul at 02:09 PM

February 02, 2007

Strategy? Tactics? What Enemy?

From a listing for the History Channel on the Zap2It online channel lineup:

"Strategic bombing is the tactic of dropping explosives on the enemy nation."

Huh? At least we're not bombing ourselves...

Posted by Paul at 08:09 PM